Well, not in the traditional sense anyway, no creamy churned cow-juice here folks – today’s entry is dairy free! The type of butter I am in fact referring to is peach butter, a jam-like preserve made from peaches is deliciously viscous, sweet and can be enjoyed in any number of ways!
I’m not exactly an old hand when it comes to preserves, and there’s a good reason for it – unfortunately, its just not enjoyed much in our household, I’m pretty much the only person who eats jams, though my father is quite partial to the odd marmalade. My very first foray into the world of jamming was in fact only a few months ago when I made my first strawberry jam.
Well, that one batch of strawberry jam lasted me a few months, and I’ve made it twice again since then, but frankly, I was getting a bit sick of it and feeling rather desperate to try and expand my preserving repertoire. We are, after all, dead in the middle of summer now – the season of bountiful stone fruits and richly-coloured berries, all I needed was the chance to buy a kilo or two of anything to get me going. You could see how then coming across the $2.00 box of nectarines (2kg worth!) was pure fate, to me anyway. My mother raised an eyebrow as I hefted the box into our cart, but when she saw the cheek-splitting grin on my face thought better of saying anything and left me to my fruit.
Once I got my bounty home, it was straight to the internet where I found a recipe for peach butter that I thought sounded promising, so I decided to print it off and give it a try.
DID YOU KNOW:
Did you know that the nectarine is actually a variety of the peach? The fruit differs from the peach in skin texture, aroma, and flavor but closely resembles it in color and in size and shape of seed. Peach seeds occasionally give rise to trees that bear nectarines, and nectarine seeds may give rise to trees bearing either peaches or nectarines. Because it is impossible to know which type of tree will result from the planting of a nectarine seed, buds from branches on which nectarines have grown are grafted to peach trees.
There was, however, one problem – sugar. You see, once I read through the instructions and saw that my total liquid would have reduced to half by the time I was done, 4 cups of sugar seemed like far, far too much. Its actually a bit of a problem that I have with commercial jams, the sheer sweetness often puts me right off enjoying the fruit, which is the whole reason I’m eating it in the first place!
I think this is one of the best things about home-made preserves – not only can you control the sugar content, but you’re also 100% guaranteed to be getting a jam without any sort of colourings or preservatives (though there are many that tote that they have NATURAL additives, I dare you to read Eric Schlosser ‘Fast Food Nation‘ and look the same way at your pantry again), with nothing on the label that you can’t pronounce or understand.
As for the results, I have to admit that I am absolutely smitten. In fact, I was so smitten with the results of my first batch, that the next morning I went straight back to the greengrocer to grab another box of nectarines to make more of this preserve, to be stored in little bottles to be added to our Xmas gift baskets!
I don’t know if this is a selling point for you – but the fact that my non-jam-lovin’ mother has been attacking the currently open jar and eating it by the spoonful is, I think, a fairly decent indication that this marvellous stuff is hard to resist!
Spiced Nectarine butter
(based on this recipe)
2kg ripe nectarines
2 cups white sugar
1/2 cup water
1 stick cinnamon
1. Wash your nectarines, then halve them and remove the seeds and any dodgy bits – do NOT peel them or throw away any peel.
2. Put the peaches into a large pot with the 1/2 cup of water, cinnamon and cloves and cook over medium heat, simmering the mixture till the nectarines have almost liquefied (you should be able to pulverize them with a bit of pressure from a spoon), this will take about 15-20 minutes, depending on how ripe your fruit is.
3. Run the cooked fruit through a food mill (or a fine mesh strainer) till all you have left are the skins, which can now be discarded.
4. Return the nectarine pulp to a large pot, stir in the sugar and cook over low-medium heat till the colour has deepened, the texture has become quite thick and the amount of liquid roughly halved. This should take anywhere between 45-60 minutes, and you will need to stir it every 5-10 minutes to stop the mixture sticking to the bottom.
WARNING: As this mixture cooks down and water evaporates, it will begin to splatter quite violently. The best way to cook this is to use a wooden spoon to prop up the lid of the pot as it cooks – this way, you’re allowing steam to escape, but retaining enough heat to cook the jam down to the required consistency.
5. CAREFULLY pour into hot sterilized jars till it is filled about 1cm from the top. Place the lid on the jar, then place in simmering water for 10 minutes. Carefully remove from the water and place on a dishcloth on your counter top to cool completely.
This rich, gooey nectarine butter can be enjoyed in a variety of ways:
- Spread into little tartlette cases as jam tarts
- Swirled through a cake or muffin mix to achieve a marbled effect
- In thumbprint jam cookies
- To fill a cake…
- Whatever your imagination can come up with…!
[tags]preserves, jams, fruit, recipes, peaches, nectarines[/tags]